Research Highlight

Probe for tracking mitochondria, ATP

doi:10.1038/nindia.2015.36 Published online 19 March 2015

Researchers have synthesized a fluorescent probe from two organic compounds that can selectively track mitochondria and the energy-storing molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in living cells1, making it useful for monitoring important cellular events. The probe can also be used to better understand ageing and diseases related to the dysfunction of mitochondria.

The researchers synthesized the probe from two organic compounds, 1-bezhydryl-piperazine 2 and bischloromethylanthracene 3, in the presence of potassium carbonate. They found the probe to be stable under ultraviolet irradiation. 

The probe also permeated the cancer cells and positioned itself very close to mitochondria, while giving off bright blue fluorescence. It showed a greater affinity for mitochondria than for other cellular organelles, such as endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi bodies.

The researchers prepared a solution containing ATP and other phosphate-based molecules. When the probe was added to this solution under ultraviolet radiation, it selectively detected ATP over other phosphate molecules, changing the color of the solution from a dark blue to a fluorescent blue-green.


1. Srivastava, P. et al. Highly sensitive cell imaging “Off–On” fluorescent probe for mitochondria and ATP. Biosens. Bioelectron. 69, 179–185 (2015)